Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East
@RealKatieEast

There’s something to be said about those who live light: those who can pick up and move onto wherever their heart desires. There’s romance in the modern-day nomad, the rare person who has shunned worldly possessions and has found contentment in places and experiences.

Usually, these people are hippies. Almost always though, they’re happy.

People who spend their college days backpacking through Europe always come back with some sort of revelation about our materialistic society. Many go back to the grind and land day jobs at Goldman Sachs only to use their newfound wisdom at cocktail parties and on graduate school essays. Some, change their entire lifestyle and live without “stuff.”

As I get older, I have become more and more weighed down by my possessions. When I was a kid I was a pack rat. I wanted to save every Barbie and report card I acquired. Now, I cringe at the few pieces of (terrible) art I drew that my Mom has displayed.

I’m not saying I don’t hold onto things for too long. Like most Americans, I hoard to some degree. A good portion of my wardrobe is more than ten years old. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten compliments on this one outfit and replied: “Thanks! I like it too. That’s why I wore it for my senior portraits…in high school.”

Should a 30-year-old be wearing the same shirt she wore when she was 17 years old and about 30 pounds lighter? Probably not. Still, those stripes are flattering.

A good rule of thumb I’ve heard when getting rid of clothes is to ask yourself: “Can I picture myself wearing this in the next year?”

If the answer is no, throw it out or donate it.

I have a slightly looser toss policy. I ask myself these questions: “Can I picture myself wearing this if I was 10 pounds heavier? What about 10 pounds lighter? Would a rich person notice the damage/stain on this? Could I fashion this into a costume?”

Too many times I’ve gone on a clutter rampage and thrown away some ridiculous old shoes and then immediately needed them for a costume.

I tried living possession free. Let me tell you, it’s not for everyone.

I moved to New York City with two 50-pound checked bags on a Delta flight. I thought: “This is it. This is all I need: My dreams, a sublet room from Craigslist and some work appropriate pant suits.”

I was wrong. I missed my stuff. I wanted my stuff.

I missed the weight of my comforter and the curves of the book cases that my Mom had kept since she was a little girl.  I wanted all the art from my wall, no matter how poorly framed it was.

Luckily, my mother and stepfather are saints. They packed up all of my stuff in a U-Haul and drove it from Baton Rouge to New York City.

I won’t lie, it felt great to have all my things again. When you’re far away from your friends and family, it’s important to have a piece of home with you. A silly stuffed animal might be a waste of space but sometimes it’s all you need to bring a smile to your face

As I get older, it’s easier for me to throw away sentimental items. That doesn’t mean that I don’t keep constantly acquiring new crap. Tools and utensils seem to be my go-to space stealer lately.

I love kitchen gadgets. As much as I’d love to declutter, I can’t imagine throwing away a single thing in my kitchen.

I lived many years cooking with tools fit for a frat house. Now, I want those modern conveniences.

Time is money, and I don’t have a lot of either of those. I have a very busy schedule and it’s unbelievable how one kitchen gadget or organizer can improve your stress levels. It’s only a little sad how much better my life became after getting a pot rack and a Spicy Shelf organizer.

Does that make me materialistic? Maybe. But you dry your lettuce in a salad spinner just once and then ask yourself the same question.

 

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